Wall Street $ for Harlem teachers

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An upstart NYC charter school plans to pay $125,000 salaries for teachers, making the jobs more financially attractive than most analyst positions on Wall Street. To stay within allotted state and federal budget for charter schools, the school plans to cut corners on everything else: administrative staff, computers, electives, small class sizes, etc.

I’ve long thought that it’s a shame that teaching requires so much financial sacrifice for top college graduates. This school is trying to prove that there is value in paying big bucks. Do you think it will succeed? More importantly will education go through a coked up party phase reminiscent of the Gordon Gekko 80s? Will fired Bear Stearns analysts apply to teach MBS valuation to Harlem eighth graders?

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3 Responses to “Wall Street $ for Harlem teachers”

  1. Phil Says:

    Great stuff. Would love to see a (semi) randomized control trial testing some of the common hypotheses about education. This is a good start along those lines.

    What about another school (with similar characteristics) testing standard teacher salaries and tiny class size? We could really try to get at what matters. Or has this been done?

    Another link of interest: A group calling for nominations for the 10 worst union-protected teachers in the country. They will offer the 10 “winners” $10,000 each to quit their jobs.

    http://www.azcentral.com/offbeat/articles/0310worstteacher-ON.html

  2. katie Says:

    I have boundless respect for good teachers–and paying them 125k seems perfectly reasonable to me. But I don’t think that this school is going to influence education policy in a meaningful way (which is not to belittle the miracles it may work for its students). Its successes will be attributed (rightly) to cherry-picking already proven teachers and criticized (rightly) for not being expandable–the talent pool isn’t out there.

    Let me make an assertion: Teachers are as important as doctors.
    Who influenced your life more–your teacher or your pediatrician?

    The process of getting into medical school is inane, but it does attract generally smart, hard working students. The training process is arduous and demanding, and responsibility is gradually increased. Standards are high
    If teacher training had a fraction of the rigor and standardization and length of medical training, it would be taken more seriously and it would attract more of our best and brightest.

  3. Sam Says:

    Katie, thanks for posting! Seems like your argument depends in part on the idea that the pool of available teachers is static. Is it possible that the talent pool can respond to higher salaries in the medium and long term? If people saw more money in teaching, wouldn’t highly motivated people from top universities be more likely to choose it as a profession? Wouldn’t more TFA alumns be likely to stay in teaching? In addition to “cherry-picking” proven teachers, the high salaries may also encourage young people to enter and stay in the field.

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